Clinton 2811
Sanders 1879
 Needed   2383
Trump 1542
Cruz 559
Rubio 165
Kasich 161
Needed 1237

Clinton Formally Introduces Kaine as Her Running Mate

At a rally in Miami yesterday, Hillary Clinton made a joint appearance with her newly chosen running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA). She said: "He is qualified to step into this job and lead on Day One, and he is a progressive who likes to get things done." Unlike Donald Trump's rollout of Mike Pence, this one occurred before a key demographic group (Latinos) in a swing state.

Kaine began by thanking his family, including his eldest son, a Marine, who he said will be "deploying to Europe to uphold America's commitment to our NATO allies," referring to Donald Trump's remark suggesting that said commitment was optional. Then he immediately switched to full attack-dog mode, hammering Trump for saying that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was not a hero and calling the U.S. military a disaster. He also talked about his personal history growing up in the Midwest, saying he never envisioned having a job not worth a bucket of warm piss (not his exact words, though). (V)

Kaine Is a Media-Savvy Micromanager

We all know about Hillary Clinton's emails. Now we are going to be inundated with those of Tim Kaine. First, we are about to learn that Kaine liked email. The 145,000 emails that Politico has already gone over represent 100 per day for the 4 years Kaine was governor of Virginia. The first impression from the batch is that Kaine is a policy wonk and a micromanager. No detail about Virginia was too small for him to get involved. When Countrywide Financial Corp. went under, he wanted to know how much of Virginia's money was at stake there. He regularly personally edited the state's website. He was concerned about traffic flows southbound on the I-95. When handed the state's 2007 energy plan, he not only read it, he copyedited it. He understood every budget issue, even down to $4,500 expenditures.

But Kaine wasn't concerned only about policy. He also cared deeply about how he was treated by the media and used the media to good advantage. When he was about to do something that some lawmakers in the state legislature opposed, he sought out friendly reporters in those lawmakers' districts and gave them scoops. He loved appearing on local TV. He carefully managed leaks to the media. Kaine gaffes were few and far between because before discussing anything controversial with the media, he first discussed it with his staff, to get multiple viewpoints.

He also used his close relationship with President Obama to push for things he cared about, such as investments in road and rail infrastructure for Virginia. In short, in the emails, Kaine comes off as a very active manager on top of everything his job requires and one who wants to make sure the media know the taxpayers are getting their money's worth with him. (V)

Kaine Could Be a Game Changer

When most Americans think of a deeply religious politician, it is almost always a very conservative Republican who constantly rails about the evils of abortion and same-sex marriage. Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) comes to mind. Pence was almost certainly chosen to be Donald Trump's running mate as a sop to religious voters who are afraid (and rightly so) that Trump has zero use for religion and wouldn't be caught dead in a church unless he had a rally scheduled in front of one and it started to pour.

Enter Tim Kaine, a new kind of religious politician, one who has taken note of how Jesus interacted with both the poor and the financial sector of his day. Kaine has also walked the walk. Unlike Pence, who cut his political teeth on conservative talk radio, claiming to be Rush Limbaugh on decaf, Kaine cut his teaching English to poor people at a Jesuit school in Honduras. Kaine has said his time in Central America was transformative for him. Kaine belongs to a mostly black parish in Richmond and sent his children to mostly black public schools.

While it is not widely recognized, an awful lot of Catholics are social liberals, like Kaine, but they tend to keep a low profile. About 34% of American Catholics are Latinos, and they poll well to the left of non-Latinos on a wide-range of social issues. Kaine, who goes to mass every week, may bring these people out of the shadows and change the role of religion in politics. If he succeeds, he could be a real game changer.

Speaking of game changers, another big influence on Kaine's life is his wife, Anne Holton, and her father, Linwood Holton, the governor of Virginia from 1970 to 1974 and the first Republican to hold that position since Reconstruction. Governor Holton was an integrationist (at a time when the South was rigidly segregated), even to the point of putting Anne and her siblings in a mostly black public school. Holton is still alive at 92 and could conceivably show up at the Democratic National Convention this week. (V)

Kaine Accepted Many Gifts in Virginia

After a vigorous but successful campaign for governor of Virginia, Tim Kaine was worn out and accepted an offer from a wealthy venture capitalist to spend some time at his home on an exclusive island in the Caribbean, for free. Kaine listed the gift on his disclosure form and said it was worth $18,000. That wasn't the last of the gifts he received as lieutenant governor and then governor of Virginia. The gifts totaled over $200,000, all of them perfectly legal under Virginia law as long as they were disclosed, which they were. Gifts to high state officials got little attention until Kaine's successor, Robert McDonnell, not only took gifts but also did a lot of favors for the giver, which got him convicted on federal corruption charges. Last month, the Supreme Court overturned McDonnell's conviction. Despite the legality of the gifts to Kaine, Republicans are going to say that accepting them was improper, even though no laws were broken.

However, once one gets into the details, it doesn't look quite so bad for Kaine. There were no gold Rolexes and very little personal property, in fact. Most of the gifts were from Barack Obama's 2008 campaign in the form of free air travel, so Kaine could campaign for him. Another $32,000 came in the form of travel expenses paid by the state's economic development agency, when he was pitching Virginia as a place to do business. In many states, the state would pay for such work-related travel, but not in Virginia.

Sure enough, Donald Trump began attacking Kaine for accepting these gifts Saturday, rhetorically asking why Kaine wasn't convicted like McDonnell. The answer, of course, is that the gifts were not personal, Kaine never did anyone any favors in return, and the Supreme Court said McDonnell wasn't guilty for taking the gifts. But that won't fit into one tweet. Multiple tweets would be needed. (V)

Democratic Convention Goal: Make Clinton Likable

The Democratic National Convention, which opens tomorrow in Philadelphia, the biggest city in the key state of Pennsylvania, has one overriding goal: make people like Hillary Clinton. It won't be easy, since well over half the country distrusts her. Her public image is that of a humorless technocrat comfortable only with old friends and briefing books.

One advantage she will have over Trump at his convention is that she will have an A-list of speakers. Monday it is Michelle Obama, Tuesday it is Bill, Wednesday the president and vice president will both speak. Finally, on Thursday, Chelsea Clinton gets to talk about her mom. It is not expected that she will recite the Republican platform, as Ivanka Trump did the Democratic platform last week when introducing her dad. (V)

Five Myths about Political Speechwriting

With the discovery last week that Michelle Obama was one of Melania Trump's speechwriters, attention is being focused on the craft of speechwriting. One of Bill Clinton's speechwriters, Jeff Shesol, has a piece in the Washington Post about the relationship between politicians and their speechwriters, focused on some popular misconceptions about these relationships, which can be briefly summarized as follows:

  • Myth No. 1: Politicians are puppets. Speechwriting today is intensively collaborative. Writers and speakers trade drafts back and forth and discuss at length what the politician wants to say. Any politician who was simply reading someone else's words and didn't really at least somewhat believe them would be found out very quickly.

  • Myth No. 2: Speechwriters are stenographers. Any politician who simply wants someone to write down his or her sentences can skip the middleman and just get an app to take dictation. There are lots of them. In reality, good speechwriters do far more than that, acting more like speech advisers these days, although politicians hate to admit that and often resent them, while at the same time relying on them. Ronald Reagan once told his speechwriter, Peggy Noonan: "I used to write my own speeches, you know."

  • Myth No. 3: "Off the cuff" means "from the heart." The Republican Party hates the teleprompter, a device that was invented 60 years ago. Donald Trump has frequently chastised President Obama for using them, although he used one himself at the Republican National Convention. The idea here is that when a politician speaks extemporaneously, he or she means it, but when reading from teleprompter, the speech is just what some staffers thought was a good thing to say. Very few people can memorize a one-hour speech, and if they have to give one, will simply read it from printed computer output. Still, that is thought to be more genuine than reading it from a screen.

  • Myth No. 4: We can't believe a word they are saying. So many politicians have blatantly lied so often about so many things that many people assume they have absolutely no regard for the truth. Maybe that is true, but Shesol says that in Bill Clinton's White House every speech was carefully read by multiple people to make sure no falsehoods snuck in. For some politicians, it doesn't work like that any more.

  • Myth No. 5: Political speeches don't matter anymore. Many pundits believe the "bully" has gone out of the "bully pulpit" and nobody remembers any political speech anymore. To some extent that is true, but Donald Trump's acceptance speech is not likely to be forgotten any time soon, and the many speeches Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) gave about breaking up the big banks surely had an impact. The truth is that the right speech delivered well at the right time can still have an impact.

To believe that speeches have no meaning is to believe that entire campaigns have no meaning, since all politicians do is give speeches. Come to think of it... (V)

McAuliffe Likely Won't Appoint Himself to Kaine's Seat If It Becomes Vacant

Up until now, it has been widely assumed that if Tim Kaine were Hillary Clinton's running mate and were to be elected vice president, Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D-VA) would appoint himself to the vacant seat. Now another possibility is being bandied about: McAuliffe might be appointed to Clinton's cabinet. In that case, before crossing the border over to D.C., McAuliffe might appoint a caretaker until the November 2017 special election to replace Kaine, possibly an older member of the General Assembly or even former governor Doug Wilder. The problem with appointing someone who wants to make a career in the Senate is that practically the day the new senator is seated, the reelection campaign begins.

Of course, the problem with appointing a caretaker is that the party could lose the seat, as when Gov. Chris Christie appointed Jeffrey Chiesa to replace deceased Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg. This maneuver angered New Jersey Republicans, and cleared the way for Cory Booker (D-NJ) to win the seat he now occupies. If McAuliffe does try to appoint someone who might actually try to keep the seat, the scuttlebutt is that Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) is the favorite, though Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA)—the first black man elected to Congress from Virginia since Reconstruction—has his partisans, as well.

Even if McAuliffe doesn't end up in Clinton's cabinet, there is a high probability he won't appoint himself, since it would be a very unpopular move with the voters of Virginia. The last Democratic governor to pull such a maneuver, Wendell Anderson of Minnesota, was thrown out on his ear when he tried it in the 1970s. For this reason, McAuliffe has now gone on the record as saying he is not interested in the Senate seat; that position does not seem likely to change. (V & Z)

Black Eye for DNC on Eve of Convention

Those rascals at wikileaks are at it again. They've given the Democrats a brand-new email scandal to deal with, this time involving seven Democratic National Committee officials. The leaked emails in question span over a year, from January 2015 to May 2016, and make very clear that the party apparatus was favoring Hillary Clinton over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), even while publicly proclaiming to be neutral.

The emails suggest many different ways in which the DNC was working either to give Clinton a hand up, or else to undermine the Vermont Senator. For example, the various officials in question discussed techniques that might be used to remind Southern voters that Sanders is not very religious. They also made unkind remarks at the expense of Sanders' campaign and his supporters, and chatted about hypothetical anti-Sanders narratives that might be promulgated.

Most observers, both within the Sanders campaign and without, suspected that the DNC was playing favorites. Still, it's a shock that they allowed hard proof to exist, much less to get out. The fallout has already begun; Donald Trump is wielding the emails as a weapon, trying to use the news to lure the Bernie Bros. to his campaign. Meanwhile, Sanders' nemesis Debbie Wasserman Schultz will no longer speak at the Democratic convention; excising her is an "apology" to the Senator agreed upon by officials from his campaign and from Clinton's staff. Of course, there is still time for other shoes to fall, very probably during the convention. (Z)

The GOP's Curious Stance on LGBTQ Issues

2016 has underscored what careful observers knew all the way back in 2012, or even 2008: The Republican Party is heading in two different directions, and seems unable to decide what kind of party it wants to be heading into the 21st century. There may be no issue where this is more clear than with the GOP's myriad positions on gay rights.

At its convention, the Party put on a pretty gay-friendly show. Peter Thiel spoke about his sexuality, and was received warmly. Donald Trump, in his address, made a vow to protect LGBTQ citizens from acts of violence. That too was greeted with cheers, causing The Donald to smile warmly and declare, "As a Republican, I'm so happy to hear you cheering for what I just said." And yet, at the very same convention, the GOP adopted a number of anti-gay planks in its platform. The section entitled "Marriage, Family, and Society," for example, declares that the only optimal family structure is "a married mom and dad" and that any other alternative increases the likelihood of the child's becoming a dropout, a drug addict, or a criminal. The next paragraph avers that, "we do not accept the Supreme Court's redefinition of marriage," while the section entitled "Protecting Individual Conscience in Healthcare" endorses parents' right to pursue whatever therapies they want for their children (for example, gay conversion therapy).

Now, the disconnect between what was happening on stage and what was happening with the platform committee might be reflection of Trump's views versus those of the party insiders. Except that it was Trump who chose Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN), one of the most gay-hostile politicians in the United States. In addition to signing a law that sanctioned discrimination against gay people in Indiana, he opposed the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," spoke out against not only gay marriages but also civil unions, accused gay Americans of hastening "societal collapse," and has been an enthusiastic proponent of conversion therapy.

The upshot is that the Republican Party of 2016 is trying to have it both ways on gay rights, as it is with a host of other issues and constituencies. That's not a great short-term strategy, since you risk alienating partisans on both sides of the issue (as Pence himself learned after signing a watered-down version of the Indiana discrimination bill). And it is a completely untenable long-term strategy. (Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Jul23 It's Kaine
Jul23 Maybe Trump's Speech Was Brilliant
Jul23 Trump Would Reject Cruz's Endorsement
Jul23 Republican Insiders: Trump Nailed It
Jul23 Pollster Frank Luntz Predicts Trump Will Pass Clinton in the Polls Next Week
Jul23 How Will Clinton Respond to the Republican Convention?
Jul23 Looking Back at 2012 Campaign Promises
Jul23 Trump Begins Choosing His Cabinet
Jul23 Musicians to Trump: Stop Using Our Songs
Jul22 Republican Convention, Day 4: Trump Swings and Misses
Jul22 Hillary's Speech
Jul22 Ailes Is Forced Out as Head of Fox News
Jul22 Trump's Battle with Kasich Heats Up
Jul22 Bill Clinton Said to Favor Kaine
Jul22 The 2020 Race Is in Full Swing
Jul22 McConnell Upbraids Trump on NATO
Jul22 A Trio of Victories for Voting Rights
Jul21 Republican Convention, Day 3: GOP on Cruz Control
Jul21 Cruz's Speech Is the Only News Story Today
Jul21 More Takeaways from Cruz's Speech
Jul21 Trump Employee Falls on Her Sword for Melania Trump's Plagiarism
Jul21 Tim Ahead of Tom in the Tim/Tom Race for Veep
Jul21 Hillary for Prison Is a Best-selling T-shirt in Cleveland
Jul21 Trump Offered Kasich the Job of De Facto President
Jul21 Trump Willing to Turn His Back on NATO Allies
Jul21 Republican Convention, Day 3: GOP on Cruz Control
Jul21 Cruz's Speech Is the Only News Story Today
Jul21 More Takeaways from Cruz's Speech
Jul21 Trump Employee Falls on Her Sword for Melania Trump's Plagiarism
Jul21 Tim Ahead of Tom in the Tim/Tom Race for Veep
Jul21 Hillary for Prison Is a Best-selling T-shirt in Cleveland
Jul21 Trump Offered Kasich the Job of De Facto President
Jul20 Republican Convention, Day 2: A Return to Normalcy
Jul20 How Newspapers Covered the First Day of the Convention
Jul20 Manafort: Clinton To Blame for the Flap about Melania's Plagiarized Speech
Jul20 Wall Street Takes Note of the GOP's Glass-Steagall Plank
Jul20 Border Residents Don't Want Trump's Wall
Jul20 Vilsack Surging as VP Sweepstakes Nears the End
Jul20 Megyn Kelly: Roger Ailes Sexually Harassed Me in the Past
Jul20 Melania Wore a Foreign Dress Last Night
Jul20 Wright State Won't Host Presidential Debate, After All
Jul20 Republican Convention, Day 2: A Return to Normalcy
Jul20 How Newspapers Covered the First Day of the Convention
Jul20 Manafort: Clinton To Blame for Melania's Plagiarized Speech
Jul20 Wall Street Takes Note of the GOP's Glass-Steagall Plank
Jul20 Border Residents Don't Want Trump's Wall
Jul20 Vilsack Surging as VP Sweepstakes Nears the End
Jul20 Megyn Kelly: Roger Ailes Sexually Harassed Me in the Past
Jul20 Melania Wore a Foreign Dress Last Night
Jul20 Wright State Won't Host Presidential Debate, After All